What our campaign stands for...
Read Arad's own words about specific policy priorities and what’s in store if he's elected.
I’ve felt a call to stand up for gun violence prevention since the shooting in Parkland, Florida, which took place when I was 15 years old. Like most of my generation, I’ve never known a world without school shootings as a daily occurrence, and I grew up with lockdown drills multiple times a year from the time I was five years old. Improving the safety in our schools and preventing gun violence is what mobilized me, when I was 15, to first get involved in local grassroots organizations, working on campaigns, organizing town halls and rallies, and demanding that action be taken to make our schools safe. A lot of progress has been made in Illinois, but more needs to be done to ensure that firearms do not get into the wrong hands.
In my years of experience with Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and March For Our Lives, I’m an expert on legislation that can reduce gun violence. For years I have been a vocal supporter of banning assault weapons, and I’m proud that Illinois took action after the shooting in Highland Park. I encourage all who read this to call their Congressional representatives and Senators to ban assault weapons federally.
Illinois has strong gun laws, but more work needs to be done to ensure responsible gun ownership and to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. Illinois needs stronger safe storage laws, improved implementation of our red flag laws, and closing of the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” among a long list of needed actions that have been proven to reduce gun violence.
The government has no place in restricting women’s bodily autonomy. The right to choose is an essential part of women’s rights and ultimately human rights. I’m proud to be pro-choice and recognize that as a man, I have no place in making decisions regarding anyone’s bodily autonomy. I’ve organized and spoken at many rallies in Kane County, drawing attention to the assault on people’s rights and calling the community to action to hold their elected officials accountable. I will not tolerate “pro-forced birth” politicians who vote to restrict rights for their own political gain.
The right to choose is under direct threat now that the Supreme Court has chosen partisanship over human rights. We’re seeing draconian laws being passed throughout the country that seriously restrict abortion access and punish women and doctors for performing them. We need to elect pro-choice candidates at all levels of government, to make sure Illinois remains a safe haven for reproductive rights. Women in the Midwest are coming to Illinois since it’s one of the only states in the region that provides the care they need. I believe that Illinois has a duty to be the role model for other states to follow and call for the federal government to finally step up and codify Roe into federal law for all states to adhere to. The General Assembly has passed laws protecting the right to choose, but I believe we need to go further and improve those laws, as well as enshrine this right into the Illinois Constitution.
We’re all tired of self-serving politicians who twist the truth to serve their needs. Since 2016, we’ve seen an explosion in misinformation plaguing our politics, and during this pandemic, we’ve seen how misinformation can be wielded to dramatically alter people’s lives for the worse.
On top of rising misinformation, Illinois is at a crossroads following the end of Mike Madigan’s reign as Speaker of the House and leader of the Illinois Democratic Party. We must do all that we can to prevent another Madigan-type from abusing their power for their own gain and not seeking to make the state better for Illinoisans. I believe we need term limits for leadership at 10 years, so we never have such a long-term Speaker of the House. We also need to pass a law that limits the number of terms one can serve in the State House and State Senate.
In addition to term limits, we desperately need to limit the amount of money in our political campaigns and reduce the influence of corporate PACs in our politics. There’s a revolving door between our positions in government and lobbying groups. The result of all this money and conflicting interests is a policy that suits profit for companies, not the people. If elected, I will seek to build upon existing ethics reforms to add term limits, further limit lobbying by former General Assembly members, and limit corporate money in our politics. We have the right to a government that serves the people, not special interests.
Pro-Union, Pro-Illinois Worker
When my great-grandparents and grandmother were relocated to Erie, Pennsylvania after the Holocaust, the first job my great-grandfather got was as a union carpenter. It was through the Erie Carpenters’ Union that my family was able to start a new, prosperous life and send all four of their kids to some of the best universities in this country. It was through the union that my family was able to build anew after a systemic genocide, and the union didn't care that my great-grandfather barely spoke a word of English, nor did they care when he broke his back and couldn't work. The union provided for my family, and I strive to be a champion of union labor if elected.
I’m a dues-paying member of the Campaign Workers Guild and follow in my family’s footsteps of proud union members. I owe so much to unions, and so do so many Fox Valley residents. The research doesn’t lie. Better union representation leads to higher wages, better benefits, and a more diverse workforce. It might sound cliché, but it’s true; when our unions are strong, our economy is strong. Looking at our economy today, I believe that gig workers must be given the right to unionize. Gig workers are some of our lowest-income earners who receive negligible pay and benefits despite working more than 40 hours a week. Whether it's Starbucks, Uber, or Amazon, workers have the right to unionize and demand better pay, benefits, and working conditions. Especially in an economy with an expanding service sector, with many of the lowest earners being gig workers who lack the ability to unionize, this amendment is sorely needed. It’s easy for a politician to claim that they support unions during the election season, but too few actually welcome unionizing efforts among their staff. I promise that if elected, I will support ongoing efforts by Democratic staffers (including and especially my own) to unionize, and I will be a staunch ally of the unions and for the collective bargaining rights of all workers in Illinois.
Saving Our Environment
The ship has sailed on deciding whether or not climate change is real, yet we still have politicians engaged in the denial of science. Climate change is here and we need to act to mitigate the damage.
Illinois became the leader in clean energy this past legislative session, but there’s so much more work to be done in order to reach our climate goals by 2050. With the passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) in 2021, Illinois has laid the foundation for a booming clean energy industry where employees will have high wages and the opportunity to unionize. Additionally, Illinois has set incentives for electric vehicle chargers to be manufactured in-state, as well as expanded electric vehicle charging stations. These are fantastic initiatives, but this is only the beginning. There are many potential incentives to encourage manufacturers to set up shop in Illinois and create jobs, and many opportunities to lower the costs of clean energy alternatives, making them a more affordable choice.
We need bold climate initiatives that create well-paying union jobs, while shifting our market towards clean-energy alternatives. Building off CEJA, there needs to be further investment to ensure Illinois’ economy reaches carbon neutrality ahead of schedule. Funding for carbon neutral public transportation, the phasing out of coal plants, and the expansion of renewable energy sources should be paired with free market incentives. That way, Illinoisans will be better able to afford carbon neutral transportation, while knowing that the power to their home is not coming at the expense of our climate.
Our small businesses are the lifeblood of our community. One of the many things that made me fall in love with the Fox Valley is the small businesses throughout the area. What makes us unique compared to other suburbs in the area is how small, local businesses are so deeply rooted. At the same time, these businesses have been struggling due to the pandemic and rising costs. We must do all that we can to protect them and keep them in business, instead of favoring large chain corporations.
The tax burden has too often been placed on small businesses and low and middle-income Illinoisans, while the richest - and the large corporations driving out small businesses - pay way less. If we are to improve the state’s economic status and improve state resources, the bill can’t be placed on the shoulders of the middle class. In line with my section on collective bargaining and workers’ rights, the health of our economy is dependent on people’s wages. We’ve seen over decades that wages are stagnating while the cost of living continues to rise. It’s simple, everyone deserves a livable wage.
Equity in Education
Supporting our teachers and improving the equity of our public schools is of the utmost importance to me. Too many of our teachers are underpaid, especially in special education and early in their careers. Many young Illinoisans are passionate about education, yet are dissuaded by the rising cost of higher education, low teacher salaries, and inadequate pension funding. Efforts must be made to raise teacher salaries, pay off the state’s pension liabilities (while keeping existing promises and not reducing future pensions), and reduce the cost of education degrees.
Looking at the rising number of states passing laws restricting school curricula, it’s clearer than ever that we need to teach complete, transparent history in our schools. This comes especially at a time when one political party wants to erase anything that paints our country in a negative light, leaving only the "good stuff." We must recognize that history doesn't adhere to any political ideology, and every generation has a duty to correct the sins of the past to the extent that they can. In order to improve the American experiment, we need to know what improvements must be made. Simply put, whitewashing our history is un-American and only weakens us.
Illinois has made improvements to the inclusivity of our state’s curricula without compromising the integrity of the education students are receiving. In this past year alone, Illinois has included LGBTQ+ and Asian American history, so generations of Illinoisans can learn about these communities' contributions and so LGBTQ+ and Asian American students can feel represented and welcome in our state. We must continue to ensure that our curricula are equitable, diverse, and inclusive.
Protecting LGBTQ+ Illinoisans
Illinois has made tremendous progress in enshrining and protecting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. From securing the right to adopt to putting in place protections against workplace discrimination, Illinois is one of the safest places to be openly LGBTQ+, and Illinois Democrats have been champions of the cause. However, across the country, the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, especially the trans community, are under threat from hateful, partisan actors. This should serve as a new call for Illinois to continue its path towards full equality for all residents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
While Illinois has made strides with gay and bisexual men recently being allowed to donate blood, there is still a ban on blood donations from LGBTQ+ individuals on PrEP, a preventive treatment. This archaic ban harms public health and wrongfully discriminates against anyone with a same-sex partner, serving only as a reminder of hysteria during the AIDS crisis. In regards to gender identity, Illinois has created a gender-neutral “X” option for driver’s licenses, yet this will only come into effect in 2024, forcing gender-fluid and non-binary individuals to wait before they can be fully recognized by our state. Similarly, gender-affirming healthcare for transgender individuals employed by the state or municipal governments isn’t covered by state health benefits. So much progress has been made, but we cannot be fooled into thinking that we have achieved full equality. I pledge to be a champion of LGBTQ+ rights in Springfield, just as I have been outside of Springfield as an ally to the community.
It’s well known that our healthcare system is deeply inequitable. Rising healthcare costs, from absurd prescription drug prices to outrageous hospital bills, have placed millions of Americans in debt. Too many Illinoisans avoid medical care because they can’t afford the treatment, and the solution is simple and doesn’t cost taxpayers anything: place hard caps on prescription drug costs and set an example for the rest of the country to follow. Illinois has made progress in reducing the cost of insulin and prescription drugs, but more work needs to be done to make our healthcare system more equitable.
Illinois is suffering from pipeline shortages in the medical field and hospitals are struggling to fully staff their facilities. To address this shortfall, we must fully fund nursing and medical school programs at our state universities and establish grants and loan forgiveness programs specifically for those entering the medical field, so they’re less burdened by student debt and have an incentive to seek out these degrees. Additionally, there needs to be an increase in pay for hospital staff, as many left during the pandemic due to work conditions and pay that wasn’t enough to make ends meet.
Mental health has been increasingly important, especially since the pandemic and for youth. School social workers, nurses, and counselors are overburdened with heavy caseloads that prevent them from taking the time to truly care for students. The State of Illinois should direct schools to hire more medical and mental health professionals so every student in our schools has a trusted adult they can turn to whenever they need help.